Entries sought at Devils Lake tourney

One of the state’s longest-running walleye tournaments has room for more fishermen as the entry deadline approaches. The Devils Lake Chamber Walleye Tournament is scheduled for June 27-29 at Graham’s Island State Park, but numerous openings remain. According to Suzie Kenner of the Devils Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, less than half of the field was filled as of Wednesday.

“We cap out at 150 boats. Last year we had 82,” said Kenner. “We’ve added a bunch of new stuff this year including a northern pike shootout on Day 2.”

The tourney is the 38th annual conducted by the Devils Lake Chamber, rivaled in the state only by the Governor’s Cup Walleye Derby, which will see its 39th annual event later this summer. First place in the Devils Lake event is a guaranteed $5,000. Entry fee is $275 per team.

“$210 of that goes back into payout,” said Kenner. “It’s a great tournament. You don’t have to be a pro. You really don’t. A lot of the top 10 teams just fish Devils Lake or other North Dakota lakes in general but are not pros.”

Again this year, professional angler Johnnie Candle takes on the dual role of tournament director and emcee for the event. A street dance is scheduled for downtown Devils Lake following the first day of competition June 27. In addition, Devils Lake merchants will participate in “Reel Fun Days” and sidewalk sales.

“We’re trying to make it an event so a person fishing, even with a family, might come and make a vacation out of it,” explained Kenner.

In addition to the top prize of $5,000 for the heaviest catch of walleyes, daily big fish payouts will occur for the biggest walleye, northern pike, perch and white bass. In recognition of North Dakota 125th anniversary of statehood special “125” awards will add to contestant payouts. Any perch or white bass weighing exactly 1.25 pounds is worth $125. Walleye and northern pike weighing 12.5 pounds will also pay $125.

Participants who wish may enter the northern pike shootout on Day 2 with a 100 percent payback. Various prizes will be awarded by Berkely Fishing to tourney participants, including prizes for mixed teams. Further information can be found at (devilslakend.com).

“The rules meeting is Thursday night with fishing Friday and Saturday,” said Kenner. “Sunday is reserved for a make-up day so you are almost guaranteed two days of fishing.”